Those of you that were following us from last year will remember our 'Healthy Families, Healthy Homes' project. We worked together with a local partner, GyC Salud y Ambiente, to improve the homes of 30 of our loan recipients. One of the biggest improvement that occurred in the duration of the Health Project was the construction of a wood fire stove. This simple adobe and brick structure saves firewood while simultaneously significantly diminishing the smoke in the kitchen. 6 months ago we left our families using their new stoves with no maintenance or usage trouble. 6 months later I visited the 'Healthy Homes' with Tula to evaluate the sustainability of our project and possible problems that may have developed during our absence.
During the 2 days of our evaluation we encountered everything and anything.
*The sustainable part:
- The majority of families are using their wood fire stoves daily. They have minimal problems, mostly due to smoke as a result of less desirable firewood usage & pots that don't fit their mold. Both of these problems are preventable, but when working with families in poverty in marginalized rural areas they don't always have access to ideal firewood or an instrument that would cut mental rings to prevent leaking smoke. Tula was able to give the families some practical and simple solutions to their problems.
- Some of our families have made even more household improvements. Did our project serve as a motivation to continue improving the conditions in their homes? For example, one family had built a coral for their hens, which were often running wild, in the kitchen, creating unsanitary conditions. Another family built a kitchen shelf to store their food above the ground.
- Some of our families have had to relocate, travel outside of Cajamarca to care for other family members, or have suffered severe family trouble, thus abandoning their stoves and household improvements. Families in poverty do not have the stability that other families enjoy. Income and survival is a constant struggle; in this struggle, time dedicated to survival basics wins over healthy habits.
- Our families really thrived when they had that individual, constant attention that Tula provided weekly. She feed our families with praise and motivation. Without that constant presence, some of our families tend to put healthy habits and improvements on the back burner and other things become priority.
Paz ~ Nora